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Providing for Consideration of Senate Amendment to H.R. 2608, Continuing Appropraitions Act, 2012

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. WATT. Mr. Speaker, last Friday, the President signed the patent reform bill; but before the ink is dry on the patent reform bill, the agreement that led to the passage of it that all of the fees that are collected by the Patent and Trademark Office will be used by the Patent and Trademark Office is reneged on in this continuing resolution.

This is a job-creating bill, an innovation-creating bill, and because we have been taking the money of the Patent and Trademark Office for years and diverting it to the general fund, we have, in effect, imposed a tax on innovation in this country. The appropriators promised us that they were going to correct this problem, but there is nothing in this bill to address that promise. I don't see how I can support a continuing resolution that does not honor the commitment that was made in our patent reform bill.

Just last Friday, the President signed the America Invents Act (AIA), a bipartisan bill that promises to stimulate innovation and create jobs and add fuel to our economy. The AIA created a mechanism for USPTO, beginning in FY2012, to access all of the fees it collects by allowing USPTO to notify Congress that the Office will need the excess fees to support its operations and hire the staff required to reduce the staggering backlog of patent applications. Now, despite this hard fought deal--one which I opposed precisely because it depends upon an annual commitment to honor and implement the deal--the CR before us fails to put the USPTO on the firm, stable footing we all agreed was necessary for it to dig out of the backlog, avoid a tax on innovation, and stimulate job growth.

Under the current CR, for at least 7 weeks the USPTO will be held to a spending rate based on last year's FY11 appropriations, a rate that ignores Congress's directive and authorization that the USPTO be able to use the fees it collects in order to support implementation of the act and that those funds not be diverted to pay for wars, government waste and other Federal Government operations. I will resist the temptation to say, ``I told you so,'' because that would not advance the debate or solve the serious problem I have identified before and identify again today. What is most compelling is that ensuring that the PTO has access to all of its funds costs nothing to the American taxpayer. It is, therefore, confusing why we are again facing such a heavy lift to simply give the PTO access to the funds it earns through its operations. But what is clear to me is that, without a provision to ensure adequate funding for the PTO, the bill the President just signed will not serve the important purposes it was designed to serve. This CR does not provide such funding, and I cannot support the CR. I urge my colleagues who say they believe in reducing the tax burden on businesses, large and small, those who fought to ensure that the independent engines of economic growth run at full throttle, I urge them to vote no on the rule and against this CR and work to get the funding the USPTO needs and that this Congress promised it would have.

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